Guest blog post by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
You never know who you’ll see walking down the halls of Congress.
Earlier this week, House Minority Leader, John Boehner, invited me to attend a special roundtable discussion with legendary musician Bono.
I admit - I was excited to meet this celebrity. The passion with which he loves his family and band is compounded in his tireless effort, leadership and commitment to Africa’s transformation and success as a people and as a nation. Thanks in part to his involvement, 34 million children now have access to education. I was thoroughly impressed.
At this small gathering of hip GOP Congressmen (ok, only a few of us were hip), Bono thanked Congress for passing debt relief legislation for African countries that are committed to improving their government. Bono also praised the efforts of two government entities birthed during the Bush Administration to tackle global poverty, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Bringing music to my ears and sounding like a fiscal conservative, Bono asserted all American tax dollars should be spent in a clear and transparent manner. Established in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s innovative approach to foreign aid is a result of the principle on which the organization is based: aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom and investment in people. In this model, the world’s poorest countries are invited to compete for foreign aid, raising the standards and challenging countries to think creatively and act collaboratively to realize a shared vision.
Bono also commended PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, as the greatest single commitment by any one nation to combat global HIV/AIDS and for its efficiency in saving lives threatened by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. A member of my own staff suffered from malaria three times in a row while serving a non-profit in Mozambique. While millions of Africans die, she survived because she could afford the ten dollar mosquito net, six dollar mosquito repellant, twenty dollar malaria treatment mediction and had access to a sanitary latrine, food and clean, reliable water.
Each operation is experiencing success in their pursuit to eradicate global poverty, HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis. That is not an easy task. In their case, we see that success is a result of a willingness to face the brutal facts, establishing a standard of accountability, raising the level of transparency and encouraging cooperation to reach a common goal. As a result, lives are being restored - saved. Africa is on the brink of a new day – a beautiful day.